Background Removal

Is there a function or plug-in I can use with Photoshop to automatically remove the background from picture for me?  For example: I have an image file with a person; what can I do to remove the background from the image and only leave the person? I can do it manually, but it takes me a LONG time. If I can't use Photoshop, is there another program I can use?
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The problem is that plugins dont know what to keep and what to discard. Photoshop cant distinguish between a picture of a person and a picture of a cloud. The way to do it is with the magic wand tool and via the channel with the most contrast and an alpha channel. Find the channel with the most contrast make your background selection, create an alpha channel of that selection and edit the alpha channel with blurs, sharpens, the smudge tool etc. Thas the most reliable way to do it.
strider031598Author Commented:
What you described sounds like doing it manually.  If Photoshop can't do it for me, what other programs can? I know there are programs that can do what I'm asking for.
They cant really. You still have to give them a significant ammount of input before they can do their job. Might as well save yourself the bucks and do it yerself.
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Keep in mind that while the image may be a person with a background behind him/her to you, to the computer it is nothing more than a large rectangle full of pixels of different colors and shades. There is no program nor plug-in that will differentiate between a character and the background it is set in/on.
In Photoshop, I usually start with the magic wand, adjusting its tolerance to adapt to the colors I wish to select (in the background) and take out as much as possible with it. Then, I zoom in on the image and use the lasso to take out sections at a time. This will give the cleanest results.

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didnt i basically just say that?..heh
There is an odd way to do it, if you're not looking for 100% accuracy (this works well if the image of the person is to be later shrunken down). Use the eraser, set it to a large, feathered edge brush. Then erase, leaving a little bit of the background around the character. Then using the magic wand, select the background you just created (the erased part), invert it, then selection>modify>contract it, till it's fairly close to the person, then invert the selection again, and delete it. If there is still an outstanding portion of background say, near a bend in the person, then just zoom in and clean it up with the eraser, or the lasso tool. It's still surprisingly quicker than painstakingly outlining the entire figure, and cutting the bg out. But it's not as accurate, so keep that in mind. You get what you pay for also applies to time and effort, not just money.
Photoshop 5.5 has a "background eraser" that may assist you in this matter. It tries to figure it out. I like using the mask mode ( the right of the two butttons with the circles on them, at the bottom of the toolbar), then use the paintbrush to"paint" the mask. (It will look like your painting with a transparent red). Paint over the figure you're trying to extract. be careful on the edges. Now go back to normal mode. There will be a selection around what you just painted. Just invert the selection and delete. Use the feather and contract to tweak your selection. It's a fast, efficient method of deleting a backround.
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